Boykin Part Of Steelers' Winning Formula

Brandon Boykin finally received his opportunity and he made it pay off in helping the Steelers defeat the Colts.

If Brandon Boykin learned anything about the first 13 weeks of this season, it's to not take anything for granted.

Like his position as the Pittsburgh Steelers' nickel back, which he spent a glorious Sunday night playing.

Glorious in that the Steelers beat the Indianapolis Colts going away, 45-10.

And glorious in that Boykin played more snaps in the game than he had all season combined.

By far.

"Just being prepared is what allows something like this to happen,” said Boykin. “Just knowing you're going to get an opportunity at some point, and when it comes you had better be prepared. That's kind of how I had to approach this whole thing for 13 weeks."

Boykin, of course, was acquired – with much media hoopla – from the Philadelphia Eagles in August for a fifth-round draft pick. But he's had to bide his time as Mike Tomlin was being questioned often about patching up his poorly ranked secondary with a player for which his organization had traded.

That time finally came on the third defensive series Sunday night. And on Boykin’s second play, after Matt Hasselbeck dropped back to throw on third-and-15, William Gay deflected the pass and Boykin dove to make the interception.

It was just about the way he saw it happen on his drive to the stadium.

"That's what I was hoping to have happen," he said. "I was envisioning that on the way here, like 'I've got to get a pick. Somehow I've got to make a play.' I was blessed to be able to do it."

Boykin said he thought Gay was going to intercept the pass, "and when it tipped I was like 'Whoa!' And it was going down slow so I was able to catch it."

The interception set up Chris Boswell's 51-yard field goal for a 6-3 Steelers lead, and from that point on Boykin and Ross Cockrell entered the field in nickel situations to replace nose tackle Steve McLendon and base cornerback Antwon Blake.

Tomlin said the interception didn't alter any plan or cause him to give Boykin more snaps the rest of the way.

Tomlin wasn't about to throw out bouquets, since Boykin didn't play a perfect game against an imperfect foe, but the coach did admit to being pleased with what he saw.

"I thought it was positive," Tomlin said. "But it wasn't because of the change. You can make that the story, but we played collectively. Hard rushing and coverage work together. That's a formula for playing well back there."

The Steelers allowed 186 yards passing, their second-lowest total of the season to the 165 they allowed the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 1.

Not that Boykin was responsible, of course. His interception was helpful, but so were the five sacks, three by James Harrison, of the 40-year-old Hasselbeck and his late-game replacement Charlie Whitehurst.

"The rush was getting there, doing an awesome job of beating people," said Boykin. "That kind of just changed everything for them. They were feeling panicked and had to get the ball out quick. Good coverage, good rush always lead to good things."

The good rush had something to do with Jarvis Jones' first career interception as well as Boykin's eighth.

"After playing for a long time and then coming here you've got to wait your turn and be patient," safety Mike Mitchell said of Boykin. "I thought he did a good job. He came in and he didn't let it affect him in a negative standpoint and he made plays for us today.

"It's hard to learn this defense," Mitchell added. "The way we do things is difficult to grasp at first, but my hat's off to Brandon for coming in and learning and being patient and being a team player. Obviously when we called his number tonight he answered."

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